It is funny how one person's world can turn itself upside down and inside out, while no one else notices. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Sarah expected the entire world to, to… something… the morning after her escapades in the Labyrinth. But it something'd along the way it always had. So did the next day, and the day after that. Weeks and months went by, and the only difference the world noticed was Sarah's newfound sense of responsibility, her looser grip on material possessions, and a sudden outpouring of adoration for her little brother. She was far less the brat, more the woman.
The years drifted by and Sarah never forgot her time Underground, those events seared permanently into her memory. They were triggered occasionally by a glimpse of something far in the distance, a scent on the breeze, a melody on the radio – but their occurrence had long since stopped jarring her the way they had in those first months. Furthermore, Hoggle regularly assured her when the subject arose that she had always been perfectly safe in his care. This always made Sarah smile, she appreciated the sentiment.
People at school looked at her differently. She had friends in the drama club and at the school paper, she was never physically alone, but there were times where she felt isolated. Boys seemed to avoid her romantically – she was seventeen now and had never been on a date, let alone kissed or touched in the way the girls and guys she spent her time with idolised and bragged about interchangeably. Determined not to slide into fits of self pity and odes to how unfair the world was, Sarah kept a journal of her thoughts and poetry. Her raw self poured out on paper in order to let herself continue to function as a somewhat normal human being.
BZZZZT! BZZZZT! BZZZZT! BZZZZT! BZZZZT! BZZZ- clunk! Thwop! BANG!
"I'm awake. So awake. Uuuuuugggghhh…"
Light poured in through the curtains and stung a drowsy Sarah in the eyes as she rolled onto her back to look at her battered alarm clock. Her teenage years had not been kind to it, and yet it stoically hung on to its existence. Loyal to its owner, it told her the time despite the abuse it suffered daily for merely doing its job. And that time was past her usual rising minute.
"You've got to be kidding."
She jumped out of her bed. Drowsiness still clung to her and willed her to return to her slumber, but she refused its allure as she discarded her pyjamas. Fishing around in the pile of clothes on the chair near her bed, Sarah found and pulled on her favourite long white t-shirt with the black faux leather trim around the bottom and her favourite black leggings. Sauntering downstairs, she slipped on a pair of tennis shoes as her step mother greeted her from the hall.
"Good morning, Sarah!" Irene chirped brightly, the three year old Toby on her hip and a piece of toast in one hand. The tension of the first few years of their relationship had abated somewhat after Sarah's time in the Labyrinth much to Irene's surprise and pleasure. She took a bite of her toast as her step daughter kissed Toby's smiling cheek.
"Morning," Sarah managed, attempting a smile from underneath the tangled bush of hair partially covering her face and the last dregs of sleep still hanging on for dear life. She pulled it out the way and into a haphazard ponytail while making her way to the kitchen and the smell of freshly percolated coffee. Mmm. Elixir of life, come at me, she thought with a degree of pleasure.
Coffee and toast consumed, she grabbed her backpack and headed for the door, yelling good natured goodbyes on her way to her first day of her senior year.
She wandered down the halls, waving and smiling occasionally at acquaintances she had not seen during the summer. She plugged her ears into her music player, listening to a David Bowie/Rolling Stones/Toto/Queen mixtape that she had patiently pirated from the albums left behind by her flaky runaway mother.
Amidst the crowds of teenagers finding their way for the first time that school year, Sarah felt comfortably self assured. Life was okay. It was a new year, she had her tunes, her close friends from the paper, the –
Sarah tripped on thin air, headphones being ripped from her ears and the onslaught of reunited pals chattering and tittering about their summer replaced the sweet, sweet acoustic Bowie track she had been cruising along to. She groaned, her left knee and right palm throbbing from the impact with the ground.
"Hey! Are you okay?" A soft voice with a faint accent came from above her. She looked up a little and saw the polished shoe clad feet that the voice must be attached to.
"Uhh, yeah. Just peachy," she replied with an amused note, tinged with sarcasm. Something small and dark zipping away just on the edge of her field of vision caught her eye – "Did you see that?"
"See what?" He chuckled and offered her a hand up. Sarah accepted his hand and looked up at the guy for the first time and smiled.
"I'm Yves, good to meet you." The barely kempt blonde grinned, his coffee brown eyes glinting with humour. He seemed nice enough. His clothing choices seemed confused, as if he wasn't sure whether he wanted to be an old school hippie or a mod from the 1960s. Tight pants and a green shirt, tassels on his vest, shiny shoes on his feet and foliage carefully arranged in his hair. Probably some fresh look straight out of Paris, she thought idly.
"Likewise," replied Sarah, brushing herself off. "I mean, I'm Sarah, and it's a good to meet you too," she explained to his raised left eyebrow. Yves handed her bag to her with another musical laugh.
"I have to say, that was quite the impressive fall. You looked like you were about to take flight right up until you face planted."
"Yeah, I have a knack for that kind of thing."
The two regarded one another for a moment, the silence slightly less awkward than those she usually shared with new people. "So… what've you got first up then, Sarah?" He asked at length, the bodies milling around them no longer registering high on her radar.
Sarah looked at him quizzically and then realised what he mean. She checked the piece of paper creased in her hand with her new year's schedule on it. "English first period, then drama."
"No way!" Yves exclaimed excitedly.
It was Sarah's turn to look amused. "What?"
"I mean, I have drama second period too. Which is cool. Biology first period, but whatever." Yves managed to restrain himself from gushing too heavily. Real smooth, he thought sarcastically at himself.
"Oh great," Sarah responded brightly. "Well, Looking forward to seeing you-"
"Hey, Ivy League!" A brash but amiable voice called over the heads of the crowding students. "Have you got my schedule?"
Sarah mouthed the obvious Jock-created nickname as a question at Yves with an amused look on her face. Yves rolled his eyes back at her, turning to respond to their approaching class mate.
"Yeah," called Yves, who then continued conspiratorially to Sarah, "And a few spare brain cells in case he's ever interested." The pair laughed and smiled at the walking slab of meat with a haircut approaching them with a genuine grin.
"Well, who's this then, Ivy League?" The Jock leered in what Sarah supposed he thought was an attractive way. She smiled back at him and answered. "Sarah. Hi. And you are..?"
"Chip! Call me chip. Junior varsity wrestling team." Chip beamed proudly.
"Well, nice to meet you, Chip. I should probably get to class." She turned and headed towards English, not before waving to Yves. "See you next period." Yves waved back amicably.
The day flew by, and Sarah spent it interchangeably with her school paper friends and her new allies, Yves and Chip. Yves was an excellent conversationalist, and Chip was fun to be around in his own bravado-fuelled, meatheaded way. Sarah made her way home feeling as positive about her senior year as she had at the beginning of the day. Hoggle would be fascinated to hear about her new friends, the pixie boy and the walking haircut. She wasn't so sure whether Sir Didymus would approve, but she would cross that bridge when she came to it.
Tossing her bag to the side as she walked in the door, she swooped down and picked up her cat. "C'mere, Puck. You little cutie." She scratched her white cat under his chin, his royal self grumpily allowing her to take her affection out on him. "Good kitty." Puck purred despite himself, for a human Sarah was not so bad. Even if she did debase his lineage with the occasional pet name, he found such slights easy to forgive when the same human was responsible for the most world changing chin scratches and regular sardine supply.
Sarah spent the evening quiet with her family and her cat, playing with Toby, listening to records in her room and talking to Hoggle while she painted her nails. All was well in her world.
The Goblin King spun a crystal idly on his fingertips as he listened to a pair of his subjects bicker in front of his throne. Rolling his eyes, he interrupted – "It's simple, honestly. Both of you. Your cartwheel was damaged by his rampaging chickens. Frogglewhorp–"
"Err, it's Frogmorton, Majesty – "
"–Whatever. Don't interrupt me. Frondyflork, you owe Perkiwillow a new cartwheel, plus recompense for his lost business for the day. Pellyfiddle, you owe Fogdorton a new chicken." Perrywinkle the dwarf declined to correct the king, even though Frogmorton's chickens remained safe and sound (and as manic as ever).
Frogmorton the goblin had other ideas. "But sire – "
The goblin king pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. "Do you want me to defenestrate the both of you?"
"No your Majesty," answered the dwarf quickly and apologetically, and all the while sending cutting sideways glances at the chicken tending goblin.
"Very well. Case dismissed. Next!" The gnome and the goblin hobbled out of the throne room and were replaced by a stocky man of mid height, wearing a fine linen shirt and red tartan kilt with sporran. Jareth visibly relaxed at the sight of him. It was Medwin, his most trusted advisor and the governor of Goblin City. "You're a sight for sore eyes, friend."
"Are your goblins giving the gnome traders grief again, Majesty?" Medwin wandered up to the Goblin King at his throne and handed him a few letters. "Just your luck."
"You have no idea." The king glanced at their seals before placing them on the bone arm rest nearest to him. "So," he began after a beat, changing the subject, "How fares our young dryad at his little task aboveground?"
Medwin sighed. "He had to make contact today. Bolg scouts have taken notice of her, now that she is maturing."
A frown creased Jareth's otherwise flawless features. Fantastic, just what I need. The Bolg, getting involved in my affairs. "Does she know?" He leaned forward on the arm of his throne.
"She was almost alerted when one of your goblins got themselves seen, but the young lad distracted her well enough I reckon."
"Distracted her? How?" Jareth's face was carefully neutral, if sober, but he brought his previously leisurely draped leg back to the seat. He leaned forward, concealing his concern and mild jealousy of Sarah's attentions beneath an air of political concern.
Merwin knew better. He'd known the King since he was a young prince and he knew how to quell his fears, as much as he hated using his half-elven powers of persuasion. His dwarven heritage made him squirm internally whenever he used them, but there was nothing worse than an unruly monarch on the path of vengeance. It was bad enough when the Lady had beat him, and had taken Medwin months to find new ways to soothe the bruised ego and broken heart of the Goblin King. Not the least of which included keeping a spy near her at all times. "Nothing serious, Jareth. Surely you're not worried that one of your most loyal subjects would muscle in on your future queen?"
Jareth's face was the picture of magnanimity. "Of course not. I'm just curious about the young yew tree's methods. He comes from quite the…unorthodox…line, you see."
"Yes, now that you mention it, his family is quite unique in their makeup."
"Perfect for the job, wouldn't you say?" The Goblin King smiled his pointy toothed smile.
After a moment spent pondering Jareth's statement, Medwin agreed.
A/N: Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this story!